NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has sparked a new skirmish with Victoria after pointed comments on Sunday about ‘other states’ shutting borders without asking.
Ms Berejiklian told ‘other state leaders’ that unexpected breakouts needed to be watched for 48 hours before shutting the borders.
‘Firstly, please talk to us in New South Wales before you close the border,’ she said on Sunday.
‘Closing a border can affect literally tens and hundreds of thousands of people, depending on where it is, and that’s a big call.’
Ms Berejiklian said it was difficult to minimise stress on citizens while also keeping the virus at bay.
New South Wales recorded three new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday for a weekly total of 48, of which 16 were locally acquired, NSW Health said on Sunday.
There are now 109 active coronavirus cases in NSW but only one is serious enough to have required hospitalisation. That percentage of tests in the state returning a positive result is 0.11 per cent.
‘I just ask other state leaders to, please, talk to us before they close their border to New South Wales and give us a chance to demonstrate our capacity to get on top of the virus without adversely impacting our citizens,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
On New Year’s Eve traffic queues stretched more than 40km from the Victorian border as holidaymakers made a mad dash home. Pictured: the Mallacoota checkpoint, December 31
Some travellers started queuing to get back into Victoria a few days early, nervous the border might shut. Pictured: Mallacoota on the NSW-Victorian border, December 29
Ms Berejiklian said when NSW closed its borders she had spoken ‘at length’ with the other premiers.
‘And I’d just ask the other premiers extend that same courtesy,’ she said.
Ms Berejiklian then declined to say whether Mr Andrews had spoken to her about the border closure.
‘Look, this is not about he said, she said, but I think it would be appropriate to have discussions before those major decisions are made’, she said.
Victoria’s decision to close the border to NSW on New Year’s Eve with little warning threw Australia into chaos during the holiday season.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian slammed ‘other state leaders’ for shutting the borders without talking to NSW, Pictured: Passengers arriving in Sydney from Melbourne in July
Coronavirus border closures created havoc for tens of thousands of Australians last year. Pictured: checkpoint at Albury on the NSW-Victorian border in July
An estimated 60,000 Victorians cut their breaks short as they frantically tried to get home before midnight on New Year’s Eve after which they would have to spend 14 days isolating at home.
It triggered a mad dash for the border never before seen in living memory, with checkpoint queues stretching more than 40km all the way up to Eden on the NSW South Coast that night.
About 4000 Victorians didn’t make it back in time, The Age reported.
They were trapped on the wrong side of the border where they had to apply for exemptions to return home.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley immediately rejected Ms Berejiklian’s criticism on Sunday, saying his colleagues had kept NSW fully informed ahead of the New Year’s Eve closure.
When asked if Victoria had told the NSW government ahead of time that they would close the border on December 31, Mr Foley said: ‘Yes’.
He also said that he had often communicated with his NSW counterpart, and then-Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan had contacted Ms Berejiklian several times.
Mr Foley said the same ‘at length’ conversations were reciprocated from Victoria to NSW that NSW extended before it closed its borders to Victoria earlier last year.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hopes to reopen the border to NSW ‘sometime next week’, Ms Berejiklian said on Sunday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) is angry with ‘other state leaders’ who she says did not communicate before shutting borders, in comments interpreted as meaning Victoria
Victoria’s coronavirus response commander, Jeroen Weimar, said there had been 5000 applications to enter the state from NSW with nearly 900 processed, and a small number rejected.
‘We continue to process those at hundreds a day but there is more work to do and I’m very grateful for the patience of people who are still waiting to come back to the state,’ he said.
Victoria has also imposed restrictions on travellers from Greater Brisbane, requiring them to get tested and isolate at home until Monday when a further assessment will be made.
Queensland imposed border restrictions on NSW in response to a growing outbreak in December. Pictured: Coolangatta checkpoint on December 21
Greater Brisbane (pictured Saturday) is now on a three-day lockdown after a quarantine cleaner caught the highly infectious UK coronavirus mutation and visited several locations.
Brisbane residents are under a snap lockdown until 6pm Monday after a hotel quarantine cleaner caught the highly infectious UK variant on January 2 before visiting several shops, sparking fears of an outbreak of the harder-to-contain virus.
So far, 147 people have been found to be close contacts of the cleaner with 112 of them testing negative.
Queensland recorded a second consecutive day of zero new infections however the state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young would not commit to lifting Brisbane’s lockdown on Monday until she sees tomorrow’s figures.
Health Minister Martin Foley said 96 travellers returning from Greater Brisbane had arrived at Melbourne Airport in an apparent breach of new restrictions and had gone into home quarantine on Saturday, while several flights were cancelled between the two states.
Victoria recorded its fourth consecutive day of zero locally acquired cases for a total of 45 active cases.